Honourable Mayors and Speakers of our local municipalities,
Partners in local government,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today marks the fifth year in office for the current Council, and what a remarkable journey it has been! Indeed, this budget today is the pinnacle of everything that we as a Council have achieved over the past five years.
This budget comes at a time when the country is facing financial tough times. Every day we are bombarded by news casts that paints a very bleak picture for the next couple of years. In his budget speech, the Finance Minister, Mr Pravin Gordhan, said that we are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to manage and overcome our economic challenges. Never have these sentiments been truer than right now.
In his provincial budget speech MEC for Finance, Tourism and Economic Development in the Northern Cape, Mr Mac Jack, said that the provincial budget is fully aligned with the overall plans of government to reduce wasteful expenditure. As a municipality we have already put cost containment measures in place to curb excessive and wasteful expenditure. At its meeting in April of this year, Council noted the important prescripts as set out in the MFMA Circular no. 82 and have adopted a stance that everything needs to be done to ensure that the municipality adheres to the circular.
Mr Speaker, the budget presented today have undergone stringent cost cutting measures to ensure that we only focus on those items that would ensure that we provide the best services to our community. Departments have been instructed to ensure that every effort is made to cut down costs that are not entirely crucial for the completion of projects. Day-to-day operational costs have been narrowed down to the bare essentials and the motto “low cost but high quality” is definitely the buzz words in the municipality.
Mr Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not reflect back on the journey over the last five years of the current Council.
As we all know the Frances Baard District Municipality has four local municipalities i.e.: Sol Plaatje, Phokwane, Magareng and Dikgatlong. With an exception of Sol Plaatje, the other three local municipalities have very limited capacity. Frances Baard District Municipality therefore adopted an outward looking approach since the inception of local government in December 2000. The FBDM funds capital projects as well as operational and maintenance activities in the local municipalities for the last 15 years of local government. The district municipality has dedicated engineering technicians to assist with infrastructure projects in three local municipalities to assist with the identification of IDP projects, provide technical support to projects under construction, support the procurement of service providers and assist with relevant sector plans such as the Transport Plan. The district municipality provides internal audit functions to Dikgatlong and Magareng municipalities and the audit committee of the district municipality undertakes audit committee functions in these municipalities.
Through the LED unit we render dedicated assistance to local municipalities with regards to local economic development and tourism. We have facilitated the preparation of LED strategies for all local municipalities, the establishment of appropriate structures for the development of local economies, the establishment and registration of cooperatives and capacity building of SMME’s. In terms of tourism we have developed tourism information centres in all the local municipalities. Currently we are rolling out a project which involves the development of the N18 national road as a tourism route. The development of the route has been identified as a significant opportunity for the district as routes play a strategic role in linking different regions and products and facilitates movement of tourists through an area. The N18 has been identified as a potential tourism route for development due to the attractions it offers such as game farms; birding; agriculture and diamond mining. Another tourism project involves the development of the river banks close to the Gong-Gong waterfall in Dikgatlong municipality as a safe, attractive and durable tourism attraction. The aim of the project is to spread the economic benefits more widely through local tourist spending which will encourage further development of tourist facilities, activities and services in the area.